Herndon Article Pira

Her volunteer efforts led to saving a life

Nov. 14, 2022
Teri Herdon didn't know what an impact her volunteer efforts would have on the lives of so many people, but one woman in particular was a standout.

Each week the RDH PIRA (Patient Impact & Rise Above) recognition program, sponsored by Water Pik, Inc., features a dental hygiene clinician who excels in his or her role and goes the extra mile. The past two and a half years have been a challenge for many clinicians and as we return to the operatory, we want to acknowledge those who provide patient care—clinicians who are changing their patients’ lives, influencing their patients’ health, and making a difference every day. This week we honor Teri Herdon, BAS, RDH.

"I volunteered to be the lead for a Mission of Mercy event. Mission of Mercy is a wonderful organization that helps patients in need. This particular event was four days in Grand Rapids, Michigan. One patient I treated started crying and hugging me. She was crying because she was able to get the dental care that she had never been able to afford before. By receiving this free dental care, she would now be able to be put on the kidney transplant list. Without getting her mouth to a stable state, she would die without a kidney.

"She hugged me so tightly and was crying as she said, “Thank you for saving my life.” We both cried with joy! I’ve seen many patients who had very touching stories, but this woman really made an impact on me. MOM saved her life, not just her teeth. She and I have now become friends. She had her transplant, and she’s doing well. 

More PIRA honorees

Stacey Douglas
Tiffani Dickey

"This story touched so many lives when this woman was on the local news. Her whole experience was very emotional, especially knowing that I was a part of getting this lovely lady back to a healthy state so she could receive a new kidney. Her life will carry on, and she’ll be able to enjoy her beautiful grandchildren. This was truly the best day I’ve ever had in all my years in dentistry.

"I teach dental hygiene at Grand Rapids Community College, work in private practice, and serve as a CDCA-WREB-CITA examiner. I love the variety from all these activities. I love my relationships with my students, patients, and coworkers. When teaching, I learn also, and I take the knowledge to my practice to help my team and patients.

"Being in private practice, I bring the real world to my students. When working as an examiner, I’m able to tell students what to expect for their board exams. These three jobs provide great balance in my career and personal life. When I’m not working, I enjoy my husband Lou, our children Mitchel and Brittani, my eight-year-old grandson, Grayson, and my two cute pups. I love spending time with others, especially those who are struggling. Each day I just try to brighten others’ lives, then I feel like I’ve achieved my goal."

Visit the PIRA website to nominate someone today! Good luck, and we look forward to hearing from many outstanding and qualified colleagues!